Interview with Kevin Burns of "The UnXplained" on History - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Executive Producer Kevin Burns

Interview with Kevin Burns, Executive Producer of "The UnXplained" on HISTORY 8/29/19

I contacted HISTORY about doing an interview with William Shatner about his new show, "The UnXplained", but instead, I was able to interview the executive producer of his new show, Kevin Burns. I wasn't disappointed because he has worked on so many great shows over the years, and he had interesting answers to my questions.

The show airs Fridays on The History Channel!

Suzanne: You're listed as Executive Producer. So is William Shatner. Who actually created the show? Who came up with the idea?

Kevin: It was an idea I had been kicking around with the History channel for several years. After the reboot of “In Search of,” they approached me and asked if I was still interested in doing it. I always loved shows like “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” and “Unsolved Mysteries.” This is my take on it. As for Mr. Shatner, after he agreed to host and narrate the show, we had lunch together. He had so many ideas, and his energy was so impressive, that I was happy to invite him to join the show as my creative partner. We’re having a blast.

Suzanne: Once the production started, walk us through how it was written or put you decided how many episodes and what each should be about, any locations scouted, script written etc. And how long it all took.

Kevin: Initially, the network ordered six one-hour episodes. When Mr. Shatner came on board, they expanded the order to eight. Because I personally oversee the production of nearly 100 hours of television a year (including "The Curse of Oak Island" and "Ancient Aliens"), I need a great team to help me. My other Executive Producer is Rob O’Brien. He was one of my co-EPs on Ancient Aliens and another series we did called "The Tesla Files." Rob then put together three 4-person production teams. Each episode takes about 4-6 months to produce and edit. This first season took six months.

Suzanne: What made you choose William Shatner as narrator? Had you worked with him before?

Kevin: I worked briefly with Mr. Shatner on a series I produced for Fox called “TV Guide Looks at Science Fiction.” It was only a one-day shoot. so we really didn’t get to know each other very well. Nevertheless, I’ve always been a huge fan. We also share a mutual friend, “Mancow” Mueller — the radio personality from Chicago. After working with Mr. Shatner on Ancient Aliens, I had a hunch he’d be perfect for The UnXplained.

Suzanne: Did Mr. Shatner live up to your expectations for his narration of the show?

Kevin: Mr. Shatner exceeded all of our expectations. After hearing what he brought to the very first script, I knew we’d made a great choice. He brought things to each episode that made the episodes better than we could have imagined.

Suzanne: Do you think there's enough material to do a second season or more?

Kevin: When I took on "Ancient Aliens," I wasn’t sure I could come up with more than five episodes. We are fast approaching our 200th episode. As for he "UnXplained," we can easily come up with that same number — hopefully, more!

Suzanne: Have you received good feedback so far about the show?

Kevin: People seem to really like the show. I get several compliments. The best so far is from an actor friend of mine. He is an atheist but told me that our show on “Life Beyond Death” gave him hope. He watched it again with his wife the other night. When a show I do can have that effect, I am really happy and proud of it. Again, Rob and his team — along with our brilliant editors — share the credit. It’s a team effort.

Suzanne: If you didn't have Mr. Shatner to narrate, who else would you have considered as your second or third choice?

Kevin: We really had no second or third choice. We hope we never need to consider one.

William Shatner

Suzanne: Why do you think people love these kinds of shows about the unexplained or unknown? What is the appeal?

Kevin: We are all seeking the answers to the basic questions of life. Who are we? Why are we here? We live in a wondrous world of mystery. Science and religion offers some answers — but not all. We are a curious species.

Suzanne: How is this series different than "In Search Of?”

Kevin: Since I try not to watch that show, I don’t know. I really don’t want to risk copying another person’s approach. From what I hear, theirs is a bit more of a personal journey. Zachary Quinto is the traveler seeking answers. In our show, Mr. Shatner is the “voice of god.” I guess you could say he was typecast. (Haha!)

Suzanne: You've worked on many alien-related shows like this, as well as "Lost in Space" on Netflix. Are you a science fiction fan, and have you been your whole life? Did you read/watch it growing up?

Kevin: I love things that are visual — stories that take my imagination to new places. My three favorite TV shows as a kid were “The Munsters, “Lost in Space” and “Batman.” Later, I liked "Star Trek" and, of course, "Star Wars." At their best, these shows work on metaphorical levels. They operate in much the same way as mythic journeys. Once you take the viewer into the universe of their imagination, you can go anywhere. You can explore life’s greatest mysteries. I guess when I stop to think about it, I have the best job in the world. And… I get to work with William Shatner!

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